Updated: Wed, 10 Aug 2022 07:10 AM IST
Nitish Kumar, once considered to be a trusted ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), parted his ways with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Tuesday, ending the current phase of the alliance that lasted for five year. This is the second time in less than eight years when the Janata Dal (United) supremo has ended his alliance with the BJP.
The JD(U) and the BJP were allies since the late 1990s, with the former getting the "big brother" status in Bihar. In 2005, the alliance got its first successful five-year term, with Nitish getting the Chief Minister's position.
This continued till 2013. However, Nitish walked out of the alliance after the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was declared NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In 2015, he fought the Bihar polls with the friend-turned-foe-turned-friend Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), with the Grand Alliance winning the elections with a huge majority.
However, Nitish citing his no corruption plank made a U-turn in 2017 and joined the NDA again, a move which further strengthened the NDA after it won 39 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 general elections. The BJP got 17 seats, JD(U) 16, and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) 6.
But this changed the BJP's attitude in Bihar, which now wanted the "big brother" status in the state. This was also evident in the seat-sharing formula for the 2020 Bihar polls, where the BJP registered a spectacular growth and won 74 seats.
Although the CM's chair remained with Nitish, tensions started brewing between the BJP and the JD(U), with the latter alleging that the saffron party wants to break it. However, the last straw was the recent crisis in Maharashtra where Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, along with the majority of the party's MLAs, revolted against party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Shinde's revolt brought the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government down, which instilled fear among Nitish. Multiple reports have claimed that Nitish believed his once trusted loyalist Ram Chandra Prasad Singh was turning against him and could create a Shiv Sena-type situation in the JD(U).
Nitish, as per reports, thought Singh was tilting towards the BJP after which he didn't field him in the recently concluded Rajya Sabha following the IAS-turned-politician was forced to resign from the Union Cabinet. Nitish's leaders also accused RCP of corruption after which he resigned from the party, saying the JD(U) is a sinking ship.
Countering RCP, JD(U) national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh said that some people have tried to damage the party but the party "is not a sinking ship, it's sailing". In his attack, Lalan Singh said RCP was established by Nitish, but now he is saying that JD(U) is a sinking ship.
"JD(U) is not a sinking ship, does he even knows the ABCD Janata Dal (United)'s formation and all the struggles this party has gone through, he has never been a mate of struggle, he was always a mate of power," he said on Sunday, as reported by news agency ANI.
"Now he has made me National President, I am just a caretaker not the owner of the party, today I want to tell him that JD(U) is not a sinking ship, it's a sailing one. However, some people have tried to drown the ship by creating holes in it," he said.
It must be noted that there were always indications that Nitish is not happy with the BJP. His frequent meetings with Tejashwi Yadav, silence on Agnipath protests, demand on a caste census, opposition to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and dissatisfaction with raids against the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Bihar were always hinting that he is not pleased with his coalition partner.
Thus it can be concluded that the BJP's growing influence and the possibility of JD(U) becoming another Shiv Sena triggered Nitish to make a U-turn again in Bihar and rejoin hands with the Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD.